O. slinked down the sidewalk. At 4 PM the rats are awake and dart from one pile of trash bags to another. They conceal their positions, only to abandon them as soon as they hear her walking by – silly little creatures doomed to a lifetime of anxiety. O.’s insomnia made her think about her mother’s insomnia, which flared up during menopause and never died down. Whereas O.’s insomnia stole the pep in her step for a day, her mother’s stole everything, for years. Gone was the laughter at the breakfast table. The zippy one-liners about people and shops on the sidewalk became complaints about the way O. drove the carpool to work. She napped where she could: the sofas in the teacher’s lounge, the backseat of a hot car. But invariably she would wake up, dazed and lost; or someone would accidentally make a noise and boy were they in for it. The thing about chronic disorder is that it makes you prey – when it strikes, you know it will be bad. The best you can do is delay the inevitable. One day, sometime soon, you will have a night where you cannot sleep. And you lie there awake, wondering why it’s happening to you. You will search for medicine, you will switch bedrooms, you will turn off blue light, you will go out and exercise. You will open as many doors as you can but none will be the exit. The people around you will you will try to help but you just want to be treated like normal; you just want to be normal again. O.’s head keeps the internal monologue going for a while. She pulls out her phone to call her mom. Then she remembers how late it is, and she puts the phone back in her pocket. The rats reset position as she disappears down the street. Soon the sun will be up. It’s Tuesday in this great ugly city.